Monday, January 26, 2015

Asteroid (357439) 2004 BL86 close approach on Australia Day

UPDATE: 09:30pm Local Time. The weather is not good, the sky has cleared but the Humidity is up to 88% from 87% in the past 10 mins. So the observatory can't open yet!!! Need a nice gust of drier air from the south ;-)

Its been a big month for comets but today all eyes turn to the monster asteroid (357439) 2004 BL86 which makes its closest approach to earth this decade.

Its not every day you get a binocular visible asteroid streak across the night sky. 2004 BL86 has been approaching from the south and has been tracked this week at -71 degrees declination where it was Magnitude 17 and will brighten tonight and in the early morning to magnitude 9 as it passes near Jupiter and Sirius.

I captured the approaching asteroid for the OSIRIS-REx Target Asteroids Mission and collected some astrometry and photometry on Jan 19th.

120 Sec image on T27 at 0.53 arsec/pixel Jan 19th 2015 (c) P.Lake

Again on the 25th of January, one day out, you can see that it is speeding up and travelling very fast with reference to the background stars. You can see the asteroid streaked in this 30 sec image.

30 Sec image on T12 at 3.5 arcsecs/pixel Jan 25th 2015 (c) P.Lake

I will be obtaining further data tonight (weather permitting) just before its closest approach at 3 lunar distances. It will be travelling at 160 arcsecs per minute at closest approach around 2am. I won't be up that late. I will upload an animation of the footage compiled into a nice video of its approach.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

What Robberfly is that?

Its holidays, and its great to wander slowly through the forest and just let nature come to you at its own pace. I know some of you are say it should be Which Robberfly is this - give me a break I'm on holidays! ;-)

Shall we play a game?

Starting with the Asilidae family we have a very close match to the Giant Yellow Robberfly. However in all the photos I have seen the Yellow Segment on the abdomen under the wings is a clear and distinct single continuous yellow stip. However you can see here there is a yellow segmented cross stripped highlight.

The second point of difference is the "whiskers" around the proboscus are distinctly yellow as well. The other photos I have seen have grey "whiskers".

Any ideas or comments appreciated. I have sent of a question to CSIRO, awaiting a response. Other hints: Coastal Rainforest habitiat central NSW coast, Port Macquarie.

Readers of the Blog will recall my previous "what the hell" experience with a photo - was capturing the only known footage of Burrunan Dolphins playing in the surf at Lakes Entrance.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Put Out Your Bats!

Sometimes a photo can say more than the most "thought out words".

Not sure who thought of this but its a lovely tribute to Phil Hughes and his family and friends and team-mates.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Comet C2013 A1 (Siding Spring) approaches Mars - LIVE COVERAGE

Well finally the day we have all waited for has arrived. Here is our live coverage of the Comet approaching Mars just 6-7 hours before closest approach. Enjoy! [Also see here an earlier post: Where the hell is Siding Spring Anyway?]

Can you spot it?

Here is the high resolution inverse image in the V filter where its a little easier to see!

Perhaps my personal favourite!

This is a great image as it shows Comet Siding Spring dead center of the image (and dead center of the telescope mirror) with the overexposed Mars just off center and the "shadow" of the telescope truss and secondary vanes reflected in the extra light of Mars. The "Red Planet" Mars is brighter here in the R Filter.

Here is a short blinking video of the movement of both Mars and the Comet against the background stars. It consists of 5 images from the R filter and 3 from the V. Interestingly you can also see a cosmic ray hitting the CCD between the COmet and Mars in the first image of the 3 V filter images.


Image credits: P.Lake Q62 T31 120 secs

And as Comet Siding Spring moves through perihelion it continues to fade. My view is that it didn't get close enough to the sun for some serious action, I guess when all the data is in we'll know more. Certainly though, it has been variously described as once in a million year event. The MAVEN Team at NASA will be rejoiceing in all that "free data" that showed up as the team were getting ready to lauch their mission.

Thanks for joining us on this brilliant journey!

Friday, October 3, 2014 Live Hangout from SSO

In a live G+ Hangout, Pamela Gay joins us at for a live broadcast from Siding Spring Observatory on the day of the official opening of Amanda Bauer drops in for a chat. Peter Lake and Neil Shaw share their passion for astronomy.

The expert panel, Amanda Bauer, Pamela Gay and Neil Shaw.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Asteroid 2014 RC Live coverage

Update: Three pane comparision of "relative" speed across the CCD.

Update 1430 UT (12:40 am Local time) I am off to bed now as the weather is closing in. The scope will grab a few more images around the closest approach at which time it will be a long streak right across the image. I'll have some more images and some mosaics and video uploaded tomorrow. Thanks for following the action.

Update 13:35 - Starting to motor now ..... 191 arcsecs per minute. Starting to brighten up now as well. Next shot at 14:00 UT or Midnight local time, where it will be absolutely flying at 214 arsecs per minute.

Update 12:45 UT Travelling at 177 Arcsecs per minute now. Including Animation!

Update 11:30UT (09:30pm Local) Really starting to pick up speed now travelling at 97 arcsecs per minute. I'll have an animation of this one shortly and a video eventually. Check back regularly as I am updating the images quickly now each 30-40 mins.

Update 10:35UT - Another 30 Sec image you can see the "streak" of the 30 seconds of movement getting longer as it covers more sky in each 30 sec frame. Travelling here at 87 Arcsecs per minute.

Update 10PM local time: Here is the first image, this is about 2 hours back now. I'll punch them out a little quicker now. This was at 10:00 UT or 8:pm Local time. You can see the moon is seriously messing with this image but we still managed to get it. There was some thin cloud drifting through as well. More soon.

Update: 09:30pm Local time 11:29 UT. It Looks like daylight under that nearly full moon at Siding Spring. The telescope I am using is front right in this image. Its going to be a tough get only 20 degrees away from the full moon.

Asteroid 2014 RC was discovered on the 31st of August by the Catalina Sky Survey and the Panstarrs Survey on consequtive nights. The Minor Planet center took a day or so to collate the observations and confirm they were the same object, publishing the MPEC 2014 R26 on September 3rd.

It was clear from the outset that this 15-26m object was going to make a very close pass, and tonight as Daniel Ricciardo lines up on the grid in the Italian Grand Prix, the asteroid will make a very close pass at 40,000 klms over Australia and New Zealand. It is thought to be about the same size as the Chelyabinsk meteorite.

Its Father's Day here and I have had a great day, and all the teenagers have retreated to work on their STEM elements of their education. So whilst Daniel Ricciardo battles it out with the William's boys I'll be drive another advanced piece of technology, targeting something travelling MUCH, MUCH, FASTER!!!!

The first set of images are in an will be posted shortly.

The aim is to show the rapid "apparent acceleration" as it whizzes past earth. Of course the speed of the asteroid doesn't change, just its apparent relative velocity appears to increase as it passes (like watching a car travelling at 100 klms per hour approach from a distance)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Carnival of Space 365

WELCOME to Carnival of Space 365. A weekly round-up of Space and Astronomy Blogs that is in its 365 Week. Thats a whole year of weeks! What a week its been, with the Rosetta Probe getting ready for its "Philae Mignon" with Comet 67P. (See what I did there ... huh ...huh) Watching too many cooking shows? Should be doing more science!

OK ... I know its not going to wrap it in bacon.... lets move on.

Astronomy is going off this week, lots of stuff happening!

Dr. Paul Spudis comments on Buzz Aldrin's case for the immediate adoption of a new national goal in space – a human mission to Mars.

The Lunar PLanetary Institute covers a new study in Nature that describes the effects of asteroid bombardment on the early Earth

We take a close look at the surface of Mercury with PlanetMappers as the MESSENGER Spacecraft makes its closest approach to the planet so far.

Also from the team at Cosmoquest - What's the forecast for this year's Perseid Meteor shower, and how can you contribute to citizen science and observations of meteors and fireballs?

Perhaps at this point I can put in a little plug for the brilliant the new App "Fireballs in the Sky" developed by the team at Curtin University. You can measure and report meteors and bolides with your phone as they happen.

Spacewriter talks about "Telescopes to Tanzania", a project of Astronomers Without Borders. There is alot of great work going on in Africa with astronomy right now!

Carolyn Collins Petersen, space/astronomy expert at, takes a look at a few of the many excellent space and astronomy education resources available to educators and outreach professionals.

NASA announced the winners of the high stakes science instrument competition to fly aboard the Mars 2020 rover at a briefing held today, Thursday, July 31, at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Scientists analyzing the reams of data from NASA’s Cassini orbiter at Saturn have discovered 101 geysers erupting from the intriguing icy moon Enceladus and that the spewing material of liquid water likely originates from an underground sea located beneath the tiny moons ice shell, according to newly published research.

Success and validation that aligns with what is believed about EmDrive means powerful mainly static thrust. It would be an alternative way to achieve effects that would mimic antigravity. It would enable super efficient planes, better flying cars, and cloud city like applications in a full expression of a mature EmDrive. In the nearer term it would be better satellite propulsion. A US scientist, Guido Fetta, has built his own propellant-less microwave thruster, and managed to persuade Nasa to test it out. The test results were presented on July 30 at the 50th Joint Propulsion Conference in Cleveland, Ohio. Astonishingly enough, they are positive. Read all about it here including similar experiments in China ......

Next Big Future also reports on producing black light power using Hydrinos.

See what happens when two passions collide. A crafty spacer explores an idea and lives to tell the tale!

I think she nailed it!! - Editor

A look at the density perturbations in the early universe from which galaxies and others structures formed, with a visual explanation of the effect of gravity on these perturbations.

Thanks for joining us this week at the AARTScope Blog where we keep creating the sense of anticipation and discovery that keeps people asking questions. I'll leave you with my image of the Saturn Occultation last night!

So that about wraps it up for this weeks Carnival of Space. For image Credits see the original blogs. The Carnival of Space is a community of interest blog carnival bringing together the best and brightest Astronomy & Space Blogs at a single point in space and time (commonly referred to as a web address) each week. Previous episodes can be found here. If you run an astronomy or space science blog you can contact carnivalofspace @ to be added to the editorial circulation list.


Custom Search

My Videos